Your Story Is Important
I wanted to forget all about my past. Looking back at the way I treated family, friends, the way I acted in relationships, I was an unapproachable person for a very long time. I could be quite violent. Drinking and pills were the only things I cared about. Getting high was my top priority. I never physically abused anyone, but I was known to throw things and put my fists through walls. It was a terrible time that I always wanted to forget once I got out of it. It took me a long time to realize the importance of my story, and that it could help others if I opened up about.
When it comes to giving out addiction recovery advice, I focus on my own story. Everyone’s story is quite unique. We all went through some of the same battles, but we have slightly different stories to tell. My story is important because it is my own. It isn’t more or less important than anyone else’s, it’s just a small part of the bigger picture of addiction. We all come from different backgrounds and different families, but the disease of addiction has the same impact no matter where you come from.
Helping others through addiction recovery is a group effort. It’s an interesting balance of things. Your addiction is your responsibility and something you have to conquer yourself. At the same time, you need help along the way. It sounds cliche, but it truly is about going one day at a time. There will be days when you feel weak. There will be days when you feel stronger than ever and think that maybe you’ve defeated addiction for good.
It’s great to be optimistic, but you also have to be realistic. Your addiction is there waiting in the shadows. The key is to stay a couple steps ahead of it. In my experience,
You can balance these things out by going to meetings when you have to. Everyone does it differently. Some people who have been sober for decades still go to daily meetings. Others go once in a while or when they feel specifically triggered. It’s all about finding what works for you. The right addiction recovery advice varies from person to person.
You Help Others By Opening Up
Addiction rehab is an interesting process because while you are trying to help yourself, you are also helping others along the way. It’s a give and take thing. I didn’t know what to expect when I first began my recovery. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to relive my past. I didn’t want to think about it. I kind of just hoped it would go away and leave my mind altogether. I found out very quickly that would not be the case.
What happens to us in life is what shapes us. The experiences we have in life, whether they are good or bad, are learning moments. When I was in the thick of my addiction, I was drinking all day, everyday, and abusing painkillers at the same time. I knew this was a deadly combination, as I had several friends and peers die due to the mixing of the wrong substances. I didn’t really care after a while. I knew that the combination of uppers and downers could possibly be a death sentence, but in my mind, it didn’t sound too bad.
I was squatting in abandoned houses and stealing from junkyards and parked cars to support my habits. Eventually, I went the same way that a lot of opiate addicts go. My painkiller tolerance went way up, and I couldn’t afford the amount of drugs that I needed to get high. So I switched to heroin. Cheaper, quicker, more bang for your buck. I actually remember being thrilled when I made the switch. What a money saver! I felt good that I had found a way to be economical with my addiction. How smart! It’s wild how you see things when you are that deep.
Eventually, after a few overdoses and near-amputations because of ruptured veins, I got clean. I think the biggest reason for my getting clean was simply being sick and tired of the everyday hopelessness. Not wanting to wake up anymore and go steal to get my fix. Not wanting to deal with the people you have to deal with in this lifestyle. Not wanting to find another abandoned house to sleep in. I had enough. I wanted out.
Respect The Process
After getting over my fear of opening up about my past, I realized that I didn’t even have the darkest story to tell. Some of the things I heard from other people made me realize that as bad as it got for me, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve gotten. I avoided prison. I shared needles, yet I avoided contracting HIV. Looking back, I really dodged a lot of bullets. It’s little moments of realization like that that keep me going. It’s all part of the process. You need to know when to be thankful, and when to feel grateful for how far you’ve come.
I made it through rehab and continue to attend meetings regularly. What keeps me going is knowing that I can help others by sharing my experience. I also feel very strongly that the more we open up as addicts and tell our story, the more we break the stigma of addiction. The stigma has been broken quite a bit over the last several decades, but there is still work to be done. I am extremely grateful that addiction education is much more prevalent and widespread than it used to be. This is another one of the things that keeps me going.
When we open up, we let ourselves off the hook. We do ourselves and everyone around us a favor. No one can make you open up. It’s a personal decision that might be difficult to grapple with. Just know that if you have the power to even consider getting sober, you’re better off than a lot of other people. Things become so much easier when we open up about our wounds. It’s the only way to heal. If I can tell my story, so can you.